From Snapchat to SNKRS, Nike keeps sneakerheads on their toes. Meanwhile, Adidas adopts a more traditional product hype approach incorporating site, social, and digital marketing. Which is more effective?

Two of the top ten best-selling sneakers of 2017 were Adidas products—a first for the brand that highlights its efforts to engage consumers before products hit store shelves. Instagram posts mentioning Adidas’s popular Ultraboost shoe garner 20% more engagement than the brand’s average post. When the same product is mentioned in email subjects the week before the product drop, their open rate increases by 25%, according to L2’s new report on activewear email tactics.


In comparison, Nike’s pre-release product content doesn’t perform as well as the brand’s average posts and email, reflecting the brand’s prioritization of splashy mobile-driven experiences to attract sneakerheads. After Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime performance, the brand surprise-launched the Justin Timberlake x Air Jordan 3 “JTH” sneakers via its SNKRS app. A few weeks later, Nike sold out a pre-release Air Jordan on Snapchat in less than 23 minutes.

The takeaway from all this? The intersection of digital media and the limited-edition sneakerhead culture presents activewear brands with a unique opportunity to engage customers online. Nike and Adidas adopt divergent strategies, but they both use the power of digital to project scarcity and drive hype for limited-edition releases.

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